Shanghai Shenhua’s end of season collapse is thankfully almost complete; is more pain in store as they travel to newly-safe Liaoning Whowin to wrap up the 2014 campaign?
Despite occasional flashes of competence, last Sunday’s home collapse against Tianjin was the kind of performance which had been coming all season — all Shenhua’s key players showcasing their worst sides. A goalkeeper too pudgy to dive, tired old men in the center of defence and midfield, out-of-position reserves stuck out wide, and a front three of two wasteful egotists and an immobile statue. It was the kind of eye-opening shellacking which Brazil received in the recent World Cup; Shenhua fans can but hope that their side heeds these lessons better than the Brazilian FA did.
Amidst the repercussions of a crushing defeat, two players received particularly notable call-outs — Jiang Kun receiving an ovation for his (relative) Indian summer of a season, and controversy’s own Wang Changqing taking a rather ill-advised bow in front of Hongkou’s north terrace. While last season (that R&F game aside) Wang did a solid journeyman job patching up at right-back, his sporadic appearances this year have ranged from the poor to the spectacularly bad; has any Shenhua player been directly responsible for more goals conceded this year? Wang predictably received pelters for his little curtsy. Fans can but hope that this send-off proves a fitting end to both players’ Shenhua careers; neither should be relied on in 2015.
How Low Can They Go?
Depending on results elsewhere, it’s possible that Shenhua’s late-season collapse might see them finish as low as 13th, and, crucially, as the third-ranked side in Shanghai. The fall from grace continues — finishing below a side which turns up only once or twice a season and plays the most unimaginative, sterile brand of football imaginable, should be calls for wholesale change at the club — to rub salt in the wound, rumors suggest that poaching the ageing captain of said anti-football local rivals is near the top of Greenland’s shopping list.
Significant changes must be afoot; in addition to close-season investment, the position of an Olympic-winning manager is also under closer scrutiny than ever. While stability is usually to be treasured in a football club, given the ravages of recent years, Shenhua fans will be hoping for as many changes as possible over the coming close-season.
Preview & Reality Check
It’s difficult to see an upbeat end to this slide into mediocrity; Liaoning will be on a high having secured another season of top-flight football, and couldn’t really ask for more accommodating guests than a dispirited Shenhua rabble. 3-1 home win and time to draw a line under 2014.
Shenhua in 2014 according to North Terrace News:
P 29 W 10 D 4 L 15 GF 28 GA 43 GD -15 Pts 34
Shenhua in 2014 according to the CSL table:
P 29 W 8 D 10 L 11 GF 32 GA 44 GD -12 Pts 34
Ground: Hongkou Football Stadium, Hongkou District, Shanghai
Capacity: 35,000 (26,000 for football)
Honours: Chinese top-tier league champions: 1995
Chinese top-tier league runners-up: 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008
Chinese FA Cup winners: 1998
Chinese FA Cup runners up: 1995, 1997, 2015